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Hoofbeats - The Blog 

Welcome to our blog page, HOOFBEATS, where we talk about the countryside with a main emphasis on training and caring for horses and ponies. If you would like to contribute ideas and information about your own experiences, we would be delighted to hear them. Please email to editor@horseandponyinfo.com or post to our Facebook Page, Horse and Pony Info. If you're into Twitter, you can contact us @horse_ponyinfo.

IMPORTANT - The opinions expressed here are from personal experience and we strongly advise you to contact your veterinary surgeon or your riding instructor if you are seriously worried about your horse. Prompt action is important.

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 Favourite International Riders for 2010

The last day of 2010! Has it been a good year for you? It’s certainly been a cold and snowy one in Ireland and yet, if you ask the Met Eireann weather experts, they'll tell you that 2010 has been the warmest year on record so appearances can be deceiving.

To highlight the end of the year, we recently asked people on our Facebook page to vote for their favourite International Rider in 2010 from any discipline. No marks for guessing which show jumping family featured high in the list!

And here is the result:

1.       Ben Maher

2.       Billy Twomey

3.       Michael Whitaker

4.       Oliver Townend

5.       Laura Bechtolsheimer

6.       John Whitaker

7.       Ellen Whitaker

8.       Jessica Kurten

9.       Frankie Dettori

10.   Pippa Funnell


We wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful New Year with your family and horses!

9:49 am gmt 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Results of Curvy Fillies Christmas Photo Competition
Our sponsors, Curvy Fillies, had a tough job choosing the prize winners in their Christmas Photo Competition - so tough, in fact, that they decided to award a 4th Prize as well as Runners-up. Well done to Gemma Lilley on winning, to Sarah English who was 2nd, to Kelly Palmer in 3rd and Gemma Willis in 4th place. Congratulations to the five runners-up also. All photos sum up the recent snowy weather and you can see them here.

Our January competition will be sponsored by Derrylea Trees (www.derryleatrees.com) and we are looking for a horse or pony with a great character. This competition is a little more demanding as you will have to write why you think the horse is a character so we're looking for funny habits, tricks he or she plays, or anything you think relevant.

7:43 pm gmt 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Making fruit salads - for feathered and four legged friends
Robindrinking.jpgI'm busy making fruit salads. If you think that's for the birds in the middle of Arctic conditions, well you're right. It is for the birds, literally! We all know how to feed the little birds who come to feed on peanuts, seed and fat balls but what about the song birds, such as thrushes and blackbirds? So many of them suffered in January last year, becoming weak and floppy with hunger - easy prey for our cat and next door's. Birdwatch Ireland mentioned yesterday that apples, pears and most types of fruit are ideal to keep these song birds alive so give it a go. More ideas for bird feasts here: http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/News/Harshwinterweathercanspelldoomforourgarden/tabid/492/Default.aspx

An Equine Christmas Dinner - Do you give your horse or pony a special feed on Christmas Day? We asked this question on Facebook and it seems plenty of owners do. All sorts of suggestions came back with Guinness featuring high on the list of festive treats. Diageo would be delighted to hear that. Apples and carrots mixed into the feed were popular and some lucky equines get melons and strawberries as well. Seriously though, the main thing to remember is to give your horses food that they can digest. Don't get carried away and don't change their diet too much. Horses are creatures of habit and (I hate to sound like Scrouge) they don't really know it's Christmas day, even though it's fun to give them a little treat.

Icy water problems - Plenty of us are dragging buckets of water from our kitchen sinks to stables and paddocks as the freeze continues. Our troughs now are solid ice and when I poured hot water from the kettle this morning, the water sat on top of the ice without melting it. Tips given to us by others included floating apples and balls in water buckets and troughs. We tried this out to see what would happen in our stables.

One horse drank most of his water bucket and the apple ended up frozen at the bottom. The pony ate his apple but there was a small hole in the ice. The Irish Draught x managed to get his apple out of the bucket and ate some of it before he lost it behind his feed bucket but his water bucket also had an ice free zone in the middle so we count it as a success. An apple flavours the water too and gives a stabled horse something to play with.

Another tip was a tablespoon of glycerine in water which one owner tried in a water trough and reported back to say it had worked. I suppose it all depends on how low the temperature goes but it's worth trying these suggestions. More info and tips here .
3:31 pm gmt 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In defence of ex-racehorses
Why are so many people afraid of thoroughbreds? I can honestly say that some of the easiest horses I've had to ride have been TBs. I know we shouldn't generalise about any breed of horse or pony but I think the view of an ex-racehorse as an excitable, impossible to train equine is often unjustified. I've met horsey people who even think they are less intelligent than sports horses.

My second horse was an ex-point to pointer who had suffered a suspensary ligament injury. He was a home bred who had a sweet temperament and was good at jumping. I retrained him for show jumping and he loved it. He was the one horse I never fell off and others were happy to ride him too. He was a flashy chestnut with white blaze and stockings and attracted a hoard of young girls around him at shows!

The next thoroughbred was another who had broken down. He was well bred and went back to a Derby winner on the dam's side but he had bad conformation and a fore leg didn't stand up to training. Years later vets would look at his bow tendon in amazement and wonder how he ever stayed sound. He could only be used as a hack but he was so quiet any beginner could ride him. He was hopeless at jumping and very set in his ways - not too keen on strange new things - but a pet. He lived to his 30th year.

The third thoroughbred was a mare and, I have to admit, a bit fizzy. She would hack out with a beginner on her back, never minded traffic, no fear of umbrellas (racehorses don't usually mind umbrellas because they get used to them around the parade ring at the races) but put her in an arena with show jumps and she would go ballistic. She used to be a hurdler (albeit rather a slow one!) and it took a lot of time to retrain her to approach coloured fences with more caution. In her mid-twenties we gave her to a vet student who wanted a horse to look after so that he could get used to handling them.

If you ride an ex-racer we would love to hear about your experiences. What do you do with him or her? What is his temperament like? Would you recommend a thoroughbred? Send any info and photos to editor@horseandponyinfo.com for our article on ex-racehorses in January 2011.
9:35 am gmt 

Friday, December 3, 2010

More snow and a new Christmas Photo Competition


More snow and icy temperatures in Ireland have brought most rider's activities to a halt. If you are struggling with trying to get your horses out see our tips for coping with horses in frost and snow.

Curvy Fillies has kindly agreed to sponsor our new Christmas Photo Competition. Curvy Fillies sell ladies riding clothes UK sizes 16 to 24 so visit www.curvyfillies.com if interested. We've received many wonderful photos already of intrepid riders and snow loving horses and ponies. All entries can be seen on our Facebook page and closing date is midnight on 17th December, 2010. More info here.

11:09 am gmt 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Results of the 'Small But Important Ponies' Photo Competition
A big thank you to all who entered our 'Small But Important Ponies' photo competition. We received some fantastic photographs and stories and it was a difficult decision for Equipeople Ltd. to decide on the prize winners.

A little Shetland called Sarah, submitted by Thomas Eccles age 8 from the Highlands of Scotland, won First Prize. Sarah is a very special pony as she is a companion to Thomas's pony Happy who suffers from narcolepsy. Sarah helps to keep Happy moving around the friend and is an important companion for her.

Second prize went to Poppy Hall from Devon with her driving pony, Rambo, who is a rescue pony.

Abi Carter won third prize with Jetty, a black Shetland who is also well able to jump.

We gave Gummy Sports Watches to 11 runners up as their photos were also excellent.

CLICK HERE to see the winning photos.
3:21 pm gmt 

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Horses racing on a frozen lake in Switzerland
copyright: Gilles Oster - Fotolia.com


More info: 

UK and Ireland


Reading on the beach or in the bath? - STAR PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

I'm addicted to reading and I love the NEW KINDLE OASIS because it's waterproof. Believe it or not, you can drop it into water and it will still work. No more worries about taking my Kindle to the beach or pool. It's ideal for my husband who likes to read - and fall asleep - in the bath! It's also got built-in Audible so I don't need to take two devices with me and can switch from reading to listening whenever I want.

(Suzanne - Editor of Horse and Pony Info) 

Watch out for laminitis in small ponies and Native Breeds. Keeping weight under control is vital.


Bitless riding is becoming more popular. Read our articles by three experienced bitless riders


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